Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Documentary film project ends in name calling, defamation suit

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge A dead Labrador tore apart a filmmaker and subject.
  • A dead Labrador tore apart a filmmaker and subject.

Creative differences on an uncompleted documentary have led to a Kansas City woman being sued for defamation after she started a blog in which she calls a filmmaker a "despicable, haughty, typical Hollywood COCKROACH."

A dead dog pushed the collaboration toward its unhappy ending. The filmmaker, Melissa Kester, and the subject, Mary McGrannahan, discussed a project that would tell the story of McGrannahan's relationship with an abusive husband. But McGrannahan felt that the footage Kester shot did not pay enough attention to a 15-year-old chocolate lab that her husband allegedly smothered.



The relationship devolved to the point that McGrannahan, 54, felt the need to start a blog, Another Hollywood Cockroach, that puts Kester on full blast. McGrannahan has made 49 posts to the blog since October, taunting Kester on a range of subjects and calling her "whore," a "predator," and a "narcissist."

Kester says it's defamation, and she wants the blog removed. McGrannahan says Kester is trying to use the courts to harass her. "Everything on that blog is the truth," McGrannahan asserts to The Pitch. "She just doesn't want it getting out."

The two women met on an online forum. They discussed a documentary that would describe McGrannahan's relationship with her husband and, in the words of Kester's suit, "her plans to dispose of his ashes after his death and cremation." McGrannahan, who calls her husband a "psychopath," says he died of liver failure earlier this year. She says he killed her dog on Valentine's Day in 2007.

Kester arranged to film McGrannahan in Kansas City in August so that she could have a "sizzle reel" to show producers. Kester's defamation suit says McGrannahan became "abusive towards Plaintiff and demanded that the direction of the film change in order to, among other things, sufficiently address the death of her dog." McGrannahan says Kester veered from the original concept tried to "steamroll" her.

In the suit, Kester says McGrannahan has sent links to Another Hollywood Cockroach to her Facebook contacts and to a foundation she serves as a consultant. Kester, who has "written for film and TV, and has worked extensively in marketing and communications," according to a bio on a production company's website, says the blog has put a Google stain on her name and is interfering her ability to work.



On Tuesday, McGrannahan said she faced Kester's lawyers in court in Jackson County and successfully argued that Kester was not entitled to a restraining order. "She thought she could stomp all over me, because I didn't have any representation," McGrannahan said, savoring the moment.

McGrannahan, who says she lives in poverty and suffers from PTSD, says she would welcome the assistance of a lawyer who is interested in First Amendment cases.

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